One of Europe’s most in-demand DJs and producers Martin Solveig is limbering up for a busy few months when the Yorkshire Evening Post catches up with him.
This week the 39-year-old Parisian, known here for the hits Hello (with Dragonette), Intoxicated (with GTA) and for his work on Madonna’s 2012 album MDNA, visits the Netherlands and the UK; next week he’s off to Japan then a summer of festivals all over Europe beckons.
He chuckles when asked if he minds all the travelling.
“I’ve been extremely quiet and in the studio for four months and I’ve been really reducing a lot my touring schedule for that moment so no, I’m actually excited to go back on tour, it’s been a while,” he says, “and I’m especially excited to hit the UK this weekend.
“Believe it or not, I think the last time I played in the UK was opening for Madonna in London in 2012. It’s been really a long time and it was not really my show so I haven’t been in the UK for ages.”
Through the summer months he will also be taking up residence at Pacha in Ibiza, “which is almost the UK, I would agree on that,” he quips. “I would say this is where I actually catch up with all my English friends.”
Indeed he’s become such a regular on the party island that it feels a home from home. “I even bought a small house on the island because I’m spending three months, almost four, there which is crazy,” he says.
“It took me a lot of time to really understand and to really appreciate it but now I really feel it’s like a second home there. It’s a unique place to have a residency, especially at Pacha, which is an extremely open club for every nationality. During the summer of course I’m super happy and excited to travel and play festivals, but actually the place where I will eventually meet everyone at some point is always Ibiza.”
Solveig’s chart entries in the UK might stretch back more than a decade but he disputes the idea that his audience might have consistently stayed with him for all of that time. “I don’t think it would be true to say that they have,” he says. “My last score in the chart was 2011 with a track called Hello, that was probably my biggest one in the UK to date and it’s been my biggest hit in the world with 3.5 million singles sold.” Nonetheless he’s pleased that Intoxicated brought him a new chart peak in Britain last year (at No5). “It’s so cool because it’s a very personal track, it’s very rough, it was completely a club record, I didn’t think it was going to be played on radio at all and it’s definitely been the track that Radio 1 has played the most from me so that was a very spectacular result.”
Of inspirations, he cites a diverse selection of musicians and DJs. “In order of appearance I would say Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Lenny Kravitz, Bjork, Prince and then obviously Daft Punk and also I would say Armand Van Helden and Masters At Work.”
I think it’s a moment of music where everything is a lot more open and you can definitely go a little bit everywhere and find a place that will be yours.
His interest in dance and electronic music goes back to Inner City in the late 1980s. “It was something very new, I liked it a lot.” He started to DJ in 1993 “so I kind of witnessed the full package, the whole evolution from Chicago, Detroit and New York house to house and techno to Skrillex”. He’s now at an age to reflect on all the changes. “Just after Skrillex peaked, with all these new sounds, dubstep, crazy, in 2013-14 I realised that for the first time in my life I have witnessed a full cycle of music going from the beginning to the end. From there I started to listen to young DJs playing classics from the 90s that I already knew when they were first released and now they are playing them again and there is obviously a very strong comeback of all the early basics of house and techno.
“It’s pretty crazy to have witnessed all the cycle from top to end. Of course it’s been extremely inspiring at every level. There has been some weak years, some lower parts, but I think now is a very exciting time because it’s a little bit like a re-set and we start all over again.
“I think it’s a moment of music where everything is a lot more open and you can definitely go a little bit everywhere and find a place that will be yours. It’s a very good moment for new talent to emerge.”
As to what he’ll be playing in Leeds tomorrow, he says: “I’m actually right now digging in my record boxes and iTunes and stuff. I’m always going to play the maximum of my own songs but in between I’m going to have a lot of fun because that’s to me what the UK is all about. To make it simple, I would say that the UK has a very solid house music background that few countries in the world have, so I’m going to probably go in that area, but I like to mix it up a lot and I will definitely make it a little bit of a journey through time and even a little bit through styles.”
Looking to what’s next, Solveig reveals he’s just finished a new single. “It’s a collaboration with an Australian singer called TKay Maidza. It was very refreshing to work with her, she has a special talent, a special voice, a special way of doing things, and the future for me is very much like this – more collaborations on singles, trying to release a bit more music than I did in the last two years.
“I don’t have an album planned. I’ve done five albums in my life and it’s just that I’m happy to explore a new kind of format, a new way to put out my music, which is basically more spread in time and not necessarily like bang, this is an album, here is 12 tracks for you guys then I’m not going to do anything for like a year and a half because I’m going to tour on it, which is of course also a way to do things but I just want to do it differently now.”
Martin Solveig presents My House at O2 Academy Leeds on Friday April 29. For details visit https://www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academyleeds/events/807665/martin-solveig-presents-my-house-tickets